Prayer: One Thing

Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Sometimes when we go to pray, we are immediately consumed with a list of people, circumstances, and situations to be interceding for in prayer.  Like Martha, the things that we are worried and upset about.  We pray for God to act in them and to give us wisdom in handling them.  We, of course, are also faithful to take time to thank God and to praise Him, but have a tendency to shove earth up into Heaven during our prayer time instead of looking to see how to bring down the resources of Heaven to transform these earthly concerns.  We tend to sort of open up our backpack of burdens to point them all out to God, but never cast those burdens off onto Him and take the time to just kick back and rest in His presence as Mary did.
Jesus told us that only one thing is needed
     Not all of the preparations that ‘have’ to be made, which too often serve to distract us
     Not all of the things that worry us
     Not all of the things that distract us
That one thing is simply to sit at the feet of Jesus – to have that close relationship where we just hang out with our savior and learn from Him and about Him.  To learn His will, receive His revelation, and to simply worship Him for who He is.
One thing is needed – everything else:
     the sermon prep
     the small groups
     the programs
     the discipleship
     the teaching
     the preaching
     the counseling
     the building needs
     the visitation
the outreach
     the coaching
absolutely everything is secondary to this one thing: sitting at the feet of Jesus.
One of the most awesome privileges that we have today is to sit at the feet of Jesus and converse with Him through prayer.

Prayer moves the heart of God and, in agreement with His word and character, also frequently moves Him into action.
Prayer was a trademark of Christ’s life.  We saw Him frequently going off by Himself and spending time with His Heavenly Father in prayer.  I believe that it was during those intimate times that the will of the Father was revealed to Him, the strength of the Father imparted to Him, and the courage provided to continue the work that He was sent for regardless of the continuous opposition that He faced.
Jesus not only prayed frequently, but also taught us how to pray and how not to pray.  Both Matthew and Luke record the example that He gave us for how to pray.
Matthew 6:5-13
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
Prayer isn’t about us.  It isn’t a tool given to us to display to others how spiritual we are.  Prayer is about us connecting and communicating with God.  It’s about our personal and private relationship with Him.  When we make prayer about us and use it to look or sound spiritual, that’s the extent of the reward that we receive from the Lord and only serves to hinder our prayers.
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
It’s important for us to be intentional about our prayer time.  We are to pray without ceasing throughout our days, but there is something powerful that happens when we set apart that time away from the many distractions of life.  Jesus’ recommendation here is that we do so alone behind the closed door of a room or closet.  He set the example by often leaving His disciples and crowds of people to retreat to a solitary place and have this time of prayer.
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
It has to be kind of funny to God whenever we pray to God and use many words or choice vocabulary words as if though we can impress God by them.  He already knows what we need, but is moved when we come to Him with simple, honest, and sincere prayer.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

I’ve heard many sermons that broke down the Lord’s prayer, but I see that essentially, Jesus asked that in our prayers, that we acknowledge:
1. His holiness, that He and His name have been set apart above all else
2. Our relationship with Him; He’s our Father in Heaven
3. That His will would be done here on earth like it is in Heaven
4. That He is our provider and asking that He meets our needs
5. That we receive His forgiveness and equally as important; choose to extend His forgiveness
6. That we would walk in freedom from the bondage of sin and temptation that the enemy tries to ensnare us in
Jesus also instructed us to be persistent and faithful in prayer and not to allow discouragement to overwhelm us when it seems as if though our prayers are not being answered, but rather to never give up.
Luke 18:1-8
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Wow, what a challenging question that the Lord presents to us!  Will He find faith on earth?  Will He find those who are faithful and persistent in prayer, still believing and standing firm on His word and never giving up on Him?